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Scramble for Votes to Repeal; North Korean Announcement Today; Senate GOP Health Care Repeal; Melinda Gates on America First. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 21, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Facts. They are just facts. What is in this bill? What is out of this bill, OK? And Jimmy Kimmel explained it pretty well last night. Is the president misleading with his statement?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I always turn to millionaire comedians for my health care public policy information. So --

HARLOW: Come on, Matt -- Matt Lewis. What he said is -- he's --

LEWIS: I'm not concerned about Jimmy Kimmel.

HARLOW: OK, but he cited --

LEWIS: But I'll tell you what I --

HARLOW: Hold on, he's citing the Center on Budget and Policy. And we've -- we've fact-checked his fact check and he's right.

LEWIS: Well, aside from the fact that he's loaded, he lives in California. So the thing about Graham-Cassidy is, and I don't think it's going to pass to be honest with you, but if it did pass, this would give states the flexibility to design something -- they're -- you're more, you know, they're closer to their -- their public, to their citizens. I would be fine if California had single payer and New York, and maybe Mississippi wants to do something different.

So I -- look, I think Jimmy Kimmel is, you know -- I just wish that he would focus on being funny a little bit more than trying to, you know, give health care advice. But that's beside the point.

I don't think this is going to pass. But what's -- I think what works about this is, Republicans, remember, they were trying to basically play the democrat's game. They wanted to make the Republican version of Obamacare. So that meant they were buying into the premise of Democrats, which is you had to have universal coverage, you had to have -- you know, you couldn't charge more for pre-existing conditions. As long as they were playing that game, they basically had a Rube Goldberg scheme going, right? How do we -- we can't have a mandate, so how do we -- we have to give tax rebates to get people to sign up.

Graham-Cassidy flips the script. It says, if the game is about spending more money, we can't beat Democrats. But if the game is about more liberty, more flexibility to the states, then we can win that game, and that's what this does.

HARLOW: All right, Ron Brownstein -- Ron Brownstein, I want you to weigh in on that. But also on the notion, Matt Lewis says, look, Jimmy Kimmel shouldn't focus on health care policy, he should focus on being funny. This is an American citizen who aside from his job and aside from being rich, which he admits, I can afford this coverage for my kid even if insurance didn't cover it, he's an American citizen who has a kid born with a serious condition that requires, as MJ just reported, up to $1 million in surgeries.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, after the results of the last election, I think we're long past the question of whether TV figures have a role -- and TV stars have a role in politics.

LEWIS: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, this bill is, I think, extraordinary. A reminder on several fronts.

First, it's a real cautionary note for everyone who is saying that there was a turn of the page in Washington toward a more kind of bipartisan new Donald Trump. I mean this is exactly -- and even a more intense version of what we saw in the earlier attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. No Congressional Budget Office score for one- sixth of the economy that could be transformed. No community process. A unified opposition from every interest in the medical community. From the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the insurance industry. The AARP again says it would lead to massive increases in premiums for older adults.

And it's not Jimmy Kimmel saying that it would undermine pre-existing -- the protection for pre-existing conditions by allowing people to be priced out, it's the insurance industry that says that that, you know, the provisions in the bill would make it extremely difficult. You would see a significant number of states essentially undermine those provisions.

The twist, Poppy, in this bill is that it goes further than the other earlier attempts in explicitly shifting dollars away from blue states that by and large expanded Medicaid and have reduced their un- insurance rates towards red states that did not. And whatever you think of state flexibility, the bottom line in this bill is it provides massively less federal resources, and that is going to translate into fewer people with insurances.

And, you know, Matt, you were talking about liberty. It reminds me of, you know, the old saying, the rich and the poor are equally free to sleep under the bridge. The rich and the poor are equally free to be uninsured but only one of them is likely to be so.

LEWIS: But Obamacare --

HARLOW: All right, we have to leave -- hold on, Matt, we have to leave it there. But you will be back. You can come back tomorrow if you'd like and we'll continue debating this.

LEWIS: Let's do it.

HARLOW: Because coming up in this hour, we're going to have a congressman from the state of Kentucky at the heart of all of this who, as you know, they expanded -- they expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. So what does this mean for him and his constituents?

Also, the American Medical Association, as Ron pointed out, saying all of this could leave millions of people without coverage.

We're going to keep on this.

The president set to hold two major meetings with the leaders of South Korea and Japan today. Tensions flair with North Korea as they meet. National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster says the president is going to make an announcement on North Korea today. The latest, next.


[09:39:05] HARLOW: President Trump meeting with Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, today. The third day of these meetings around the United Nations General Assembly. We're monitoring. We'll bring you more in just a moment.

Meantime, the president's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, says that the president is set to make an announcement today pertaining to North Korea. No more details on that. We'll tell you when we have them. But this as he is just hours away from meeting with the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea.

Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is with us.

Elise, so McMaster says this. We don't know what the president's going to say about North Korea today, but this is a really key meeting and it comes after Secretary of State Tillerson indicated the sanctions are actually working against North Korea.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I asked about them -- him that last night at the press conference because over the weekend he had just kind of eluded to it. And what he said is, they are starting to see that there is some fuel shortages in North Korea.

What happened is, North Korea was anticipating a lot of these sanctions and so they started stocking up on fuel. And now that's kind of running out. So what Secretary Tillerson was saying is that he thinks that eventually North Korea is really going to feel that pinch.

[09:40:13] But, Poppy, the kind of real squeezing of North Korea that we're talking, the administration has said, really is going to needed to get North Korea to the table, we're far away from that. And you don't have really China onboard to make that real squeeze either.

HARLOW: Elise, Chris Cuomo asked H.R. McMaster on "NEW DAY" this morning, you know, how is North Korea supposed to believe that they should or can sign on to a deal if the president is threatening to pull out of the deal with Iran? I mean it's a very legitimate question.

LABOTT: Well, I asked the secretary -- right, I asked the secretary that last night too and he kind of, you know, danced around that answer and said, oh, they're two different agreements and we won't enter into the same agreement as they did with Iran.

But -- but, look, I mean, even the president of Iran had said -- and a lot of people in that room agreed in the general assembly -- that, how can anybody take the U.S. word if the U.S. is going to sign on to an agreement and then backtrack. And what they're also doing with the Iran deal is kind of changing the goalpost.

So if you don't make your -- President Trump says he's the deal maker. You know, you're not a deal maker if people don't think you're good as your word when you make a deal.

HARLOW: I'm sure they would point out, though, that the Iran deal was made under the Obama administration. That will be their argument, they would make a different deal and different terms. But, yes, it's a very legitimate question. I'm glad you posed it to Tillerson.

We've got to leave it there. Thank you, as always.

Much more of Elise's reporting on her questioning of Rex Tillerson on

Meantime, President Trump focusing on foreign policy, today back at home in D.C. It is the health care battle that is front and center on The Hill. The president is optimistic about this latest push to repeal Obamacare. Are other Republicans, enough of them, on board.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman of Kentucky, James Comer.

It's nice to have you, congressman. Thank you for being here.

And you voted yes on that Republican push to repeal Obamacare back this spring in the House. This one is going to come to the floor of the Senate without a CBO score. We're going to have no idea how many Americans might lose insurance as a result of this. Is it responsible for senators to vote on it without knowing that?

SEN. JAMES COMER (R), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, I certainly wish that the Senate would get a CBO score. I think it's a terrible thing when Congress votes on a major piece of legislation without a CBO score.

Having said that, when you look at the last CBO score and it said that 23 million Americans were going to lose their health insurance, the majority of those Americans would have been in two categories, the young people that no longer were going to have to comply with the individual mandate, and then people on Medicaid. And our goal with people on Medicaid is to grow the economy, to pass President Trump's agenda, to try to create jobs, hope that the stock market continues to go up, hope that new companies come to America, hope that companies that have been in operation for a long time continue to expand and we get these people that are able-bodied off Medicaid and into the workforce.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about Medicaid specifically in your district, all right? Your specific district in Kentucky, one in five people live in poverty, one in six are disabled. You know these numbers and their plight better than I, better than anyone.

COMER: Right.

HARLOW: A lot of those people are insured because of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

COMER: Right.

HARLOW: It's 443,000 more people across the state of Kentucky have insurance because of that expansion. This Graham-Cassidy Bill would do away with that expansion. Are you comfortable with that and telling your constituents that?

COMER: Well, look -- well, what we want to do is get people into private health care. And in order to do that, we have to grow the economy. We have to pass tax --

HARLOW: I understand that's what you want to do, but I'm asking about these people in your state, in your district who now are covered because of this expansion, that goes away. There is no guarantee in this for them.

COMER: Well, what the bill will do is give states the authority to manage their Medicaid programs. And people that deserve to be on Medicaid will continue to be on Medicaid. It support Medicaid as it was intended. It was intended to be a temporarily safety net to help elderly people in nursing homes, to help children, to help people with true disabilities. But what's happened over time, it's gone from a temporary safety net into an entitlement, especially in poor states like Kentucky and West Virginia. To get people out of poverty, we have to create an environment where they have access to a good paying job, a job that has a living wage, as well as provides health care benefits. And that's what the overall goal is of the Republican plan.

HARLOW: But there is -- so -- so let me just stop you there, because there is no guarantee in this legislation that those bloc grants, that money through 2026, that, by the way, would not continue past 2026 as of now, those bloc grants go as money chunks to the state that can be used for health care, but they can be used for a lot of different things with health care. There's no guarantee that they go to those poorest individuals who rely on Medicaid. There is no guarantee there. Is that best for your constituents?

[09:45:08] COMER: Well, I -- I was a member of the Kentucky General Assembly for 11 years. I know this governor. And I believe that the Kentucky General Assembly and this -- the governor of Kentucky care about people and they're going to do everything they can to manage the Medicaid dollars in a more efficient way than the federal government. And I believe that this is the right direction.

You know, we have to focus also on the working class people in my district and all across America that are struggling to pay their skyrocketing health care premiums. And what this bill will do is give individuals choice. If they want to buy a health care plan at a less expensive price, then they'll have that choice. If they want to have a health care plan that has ever possible rider on it, they will have that choice.

And one of the riders that the Kentucky General Assembly has expressed an interest in, in one of the waivers that they expressed an interest in applying for, is to put work requirements on able-bodied Kentuckians. You know, there are a lot of people in Kentucky, as you mentioned, that are truly disabled. A lot of people that are living in poverty. They will continue to be on Medicaid. That's what Medicaid was created.

But we also have a lot of abuse in the system. And the people in my district that work hard, that struggle to pay their health care, they're very frustrated when they see someone they know in their small town, where everybody knows everybody, they see someone that's not working. And the big employers in my district --

HARLOW: Congressman --

COMER: Are struggling to find employees because they feel like they're competing against the government because a lot of times people are better off to stay at home and have free health care and not go to work.

HARLOW: Congressman, I hear you. I've met a lot of those folks. I've spent time reporting in Kentucky.

We have to leave it there. But a yes or no answer, would you vote on the legislation if it came to the House floor without a CBO score as it stands now?

COMER: Well, as it stands now, the president supports the bill, our governor supports the bill. We're communicating with our hospital administrators and health care providers in the district and all the stakeholders. I am leaning towards yes.


COMER: I'm disappointed that we do not have a CBO score, but I am leaning yes.

HARLOW: Congressman, thank you for being with us. I appreciate it.

COMER: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, what does President Trump's proposed budget say about women? Zero, says billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates. Her message to the president and what she says about her meeting with Ivanka Trump.


HARLOW: Do you see Ivanka Trump as an advocate in the White House for this?

MELINDA GATES, PHILANTHROPIST: I think she's doing her best. She certainly cares about families and she cares about women.



[09:50:50] HARLOW: Bill and Melina Gates lead the world's largest private charitable foundation. They rarely wade into politics. But they have been spending a lot of time in Washington recently. One reason, they see President Trump's America first rhetoric as dangerous.

I sat down with Melinda Gates this week and she told me what she thinks the president's budget says about his thoughts about women, plus her own experience with sexism through her entire career.

Here it is.


HARLOW: Here's how your husband put it. In February Bill said he's concerned that the America first rhetoric could threaten global security. Do you share the same concern as your husband on this front?

MELINDA GATES, CO-FOUNDER, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Definitely. It -- we are a global world. We aren't just America as an island anymore. All you have to look at is peace and security around the world or look at diseases, how they cross borders. Ebola showed up in our country.


GATES: Started in West Africa, right? So we are a global community and we need to talk about being a global community and about lifting everyone up. Yes, we have problems in our country. Yes, we still have too much poverty. We need to work on that. But we also need to work on the rest of the world. Because if we want peace and security, we need to make sure that everybody has the chance to grow up and live a healthy and a prosperous life.

HARLOW: What is the number one thing -- you said you've been in Washington a lot with the administration. I assume that means -- I know your husband has been to the White House. Have you been to the White House?


HARLOW: OK. What is the number one thing the Trump administration could do right now to advance these causes and specifically your cause for women and girls?

GATES: To advance causes, they should put money behind them. If you believe in women, you fund things for women. You fund family planning. You fund women's health. The power is in the money. HARLOW: You talked about, in your words, a loss of U.S. leadership

resulting in confusion and chaos. How do you believe Washington and the administration can quell what you call this chaos and confusion you see on the global stage?

GATES: They can fund foreign aid. And so -- and one of the things we're seeing come together, both in the House and the Senate, is, you know, the president put in, to be frank, zero dollars for family planning. He took a budget that was over $600 million and his budget says zero. So that tells me what he thinks about women, zero, right. And yet we know that's the thing that will lift women out of poverty.

HARLOW: What do you think -- what does it say?

GATES: It says women aren't important. That family planning is not important. That you don't believe in this. But, however, Congress, both the House and the Senate, have put pockets of money in for family planning. It says to me they know that making investments on behalf of women is important.

All the generals wrote a letter to President Trump saying, look, you got to make these investments in health and we'll have to buy less bullets. That just makes sense. So we're talking to Congress about that.

HARLOW: So someone that has the president's ear in the White House every day who is a parent, Ivanka Trump. This has been her signature, right? I mean this has been what she's talked about. She's proposed maternity and paternity leave. Do you see Ivanka Trump as an advocate in the White House for this?

GATES: I think she's doing her best. She certainly cares about families and she cares about women. So I think she is trying to carry the water on this. And how far she gets remains to be seen.

HARLOW: So what would you say to her, just sitting with her --

GATES: I have talked to her about this.


GATES: And we talked early on about the fact that it shouldn't just be just maternity leave, it should be paid family medical leave.

HARLOW: Are you the one who got the change?

GATES: I wouldn't say that.

HARLOW: Because the platform changed.

GATES: I wouldn't say that. We've had some conversations about it. I pointed out some of the research to her and she went and got herself knowledge. She's very bright.

HARLOW: Yes. GATES: Very, very bright and very committed. And she went and got that research and talked to a lot of people about this. So I think the fact that it's paid family medical leave is a great thing.

HARLOW: This is a moment of reckoning for the tech industry, for Silicon Valley right, no question. The fallout from sexism at Uber and a host of companies, memos about biological differences in men and women and their ability or perceived inability at their job as a result, sexual misconduct in the VC (ph) world. I mean, you name it. You wrote an really eye-opening piece last week in "Recode" about all of this and you said that you're left both outraged but a little bit optimistic.

[09:55:09] GATES: Well, I'm outraged that we're sitting in 2017 and these issues are going on and going on so deeply in the tech industry. You know, when I look at the tech industry, these are amazing jobs. They're exciting jobs. They're innovative. We're creating new things in the tech industry. They're great-paying jobs. So it should be a place that women want to go in droves. And women are saying, I don't want go into that field. And so it means there are problems and we need to fix it.

So I'm outraged that's going on. I'm optimistic, though, because I think that we're finally seeing the transparencies coming forward. You're seeing a cacophony of voices speaking about this.

HARLOW: You had a very long, very successful career at Microsoft. Did you experience sexism ever in your career inside or outside the company?

GATES: Sure. All the way through. I mean --

HARLOW: College?

GATES: Well, college, first of all, I was one of the first female coders. So you experience it there from, you know, your peers and the professors. Then you go into business. And it wasn't as bad to be honest inside of Microsoft because if you got into the company, if you crossed that interview hurdle, they knew you were good. So I didn't face it -- I faced it a little bit inside the company, but not very much. But I faced it out in industry.

I still walk in places with Bill and people, first of all, they assume he's the smartest person in the room, almost no matter whether it's a man or a woman who walks in, right? But as soon as I open my mouth, you can sometimes look at the person's face and they're kind of like, wow, she knows something too.


GATES: I kind of think it's kind of funny.

HARLOW: So Melinda Gates gets that?

GATES: Yes, in get that in certain --

HARLOW: Today?

GATES: in certain places.


HARLOW: Pretty amazing that even Melinda Gates faces that. My thanks to her.

Every minute matters. Right now, a desperate race to reach survivors trapped under the rubble after that huge earthquake in Mexico. Much more straight ahead.


[10:00:10] HARLOW: All right, top of the hour. 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow. We begin with breaking news.